Side by Side – DVD review

Keanu Reeves makes for a strangely apt narrator in a discussion with Scorsese and other directors of the digital vs film question


Keanu Reeves presents a most excellent adventure through the history of film-making, while taking time to discuss the digital vs film question with directors including Scorsese, Lynch, Nolan and Lucas. What could have been a sluggish pseudo-academic debate is full of pace, swagger and playful anecdote – who knew that Robert Downey Jr protested against the use of digital photography in Zodiac by leaving carefully placed jars of his own urine around set?

Reeves makes for a strangely apt narrator, his career overlapping neatly with the contentious period in question: from photochemical film’s ubiquity in the 1980s, to digital’s advent with the Dogme 95 movement of the 1990s, up until the apotheosis of special effects that was The Matrix trilogy. For the most part Reeves gets good sense out of the Hollywood heavyweights, though James Cameron is at one point caught starting a sentence with: “I, as an artist, believe … ”

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